Georgia Insurance Chief Oxendine Top Fundraiser in Governor Race

By Shannon McCaffrey | January 11, 2010

Last Friday was a dollar deadline in the race for Georgia governor as the crowded field of candidates faced a key hurdle: demonstrating they can raise enough cash to go the distance.

With several candidates still not reporting their fundraising totals Friday night, state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine appeared to be the money leader. The Duluth Republican told The Associated Press he has raised $2.96 million total in the race, $1.5 million of that in the last six months. He said he had $2.2 million left in the bank. Oxendine’s campaign disclosure was not immediately available to confirm the figures he provided.

Former Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes has taken in $2.7 million in his comeback bid.

Barnes only entered the race in July. Oxendine has been running for governor for close to two years.

Barnes still has $2.2 million on hand.

Former state Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson reported bringing in $726,362 for the reporting period. That brings the Savannah Republican to $1.7 million total for the campaign with $1.3 million left in the bank.

U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, meanwhile, saw his early fundraising success slow. He raised $608,438 in the last six months of 2009, half of what he’d been able to raise in the early part of last year.

The Gainesville Republican has taken in $1.8 million since getting into the race. But he’s already spent half of that. He has $940,275 left in the bank.

Among other Republicans:

  • State Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton raised $222,564 in the last six months of 2009, for a total of $403,184. He has $159,082 left.
  • State Sen. Jeff Chapman of Brunswick has raised $70,090 and had $17,833 in the bank.
  • Former Secretary of State Karen Handel had not yet reported her campaign totals.

On the Democratic side, reports had not yet been filed late Friday for Attorney General Thurbert Baker, House Minority Leader DuBose Porter and former Georgia National Guard Commander David Poythress.

Ray City Mayor Carl Camon raised $3,403 and had just $12 cash on hand.

Candidates had until midnight Friday to file their disclosures.

The fundraising numbers are considered a key test of viability in the high-stakes race to succeed Sonny Perdue in the governor’s mansion. But the numbers aren’t always a sure test; Perdue beat Barnes in 2002, despite Barnes’ overwhelming financial advantage.

Oxendine, Baker, Porter, Scott and Chapman are all barred from accepting contributions during the legislative session, which begins Monday. That’s because they are still in elected office. Handel and Johnson have each left office to focus full time on their gubernatorial bids, freeing them to raise funds over the next few months.

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